IRAN: Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini’s imprisonment in Tehran. Our reporter was interviewing his wife Naghmeh Abedini, in New York for this week’s UN General Assembly, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani walked in the room. More, Naghmeh had in hand a letter her husband had written to Rouhani, and was able to give it to one of his aides on the spot.
Two Christians are among 20 political prisoners Rouhani has freed as a gesture of good will and to signal some thaw in relations with the West. So far, Abedini is not among those slated to be freed.
Rouhani told the UN General Assembly his country is ready for “time-bound and results-oriented” talks on his country’s nuclear program.
AMERICAN EMPIRE IS DEAD, President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly—and much of the world considers that bad news.
UN: Secretary of State John Kerry signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, an international accord set to limit conventional weapons trade. U.S. gun advocates say it violates the Second Amendment.
PAKISTAN:Christians returned to the scene of the crime and filled All Saints Church in Peshawar on Monday, less than 24 hours after the suicide bombing that killed 89 and wounded more than 150. Reports of the number of dead vary, and many injured may die of their wounds. In other words, they went back to the place where they and fellow believers were targeted by the Taliban—more eager to worship than they were fearful. John 6:68 comes to mind.
A Federal Investigative Team arrived in Peshawar on Tuesday to look into Sunday’s twin bombings at All Saints, one of Pakistan’s oldest churches. The team’s initial investigation suggests that each attacker carried a suicide vest containing six kilograms of high explosives and ball bearings, designed to inflict maximum damage.
“We found the skull of one bomber soon after the explosions, while the second head was found on the rooftop of the church,” the bomb disposal squad’s leader said.
Western media has reported Taliban statements blaming the attack on U.S drone strikes in Pakistan. But here’s what one of the Taliban spokesmen actually said: “They [the Christians] are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.”
WE’RE FOLLOWING: Reports of mass starvation in Syria. Obama’s pledge yesterday of $340 million in humanitarian aid for Syria is likely too little too late, really more a cynical hand wave as rebel and government forces have blocked aid groups for over two years—and the United States, Saudis, and Russians have never made access to aid a condition for supplying arms.
KENYA: Beloved national poet Kofi Awoonor of Ghana was among those who died in the Kenyan mall attack. Other victims include an Australian architect, an Indian banker and his 8-year-old son, a Dutch vaccines researcher for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the nephew of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his fiancée, and the popular Kenyan radio personality Ruhila Adatia-Sood—along with her husband, who worked for USAID, and their unborn child.